educational psychology

Motivar y favorecer el clima del aula (English version)

Nobody would question that the school should be a safe and relaxing place where pupils have to learn and grow up happily. However, attending a class may be a stressful experience for many children, for different reasons. Those could be: they find their class boring and they have to do a great amount of homework day in-day out; some of them don`t understand what tasks they are asked to do; they could be embarrased to ask their doubts or questions or they don`t get along with their mates and find it difficult to socialise.

It`s hard to find just a single factor that makes students suffer from stress in class. We, as teachers, are commited to providing our pupils with a stress-free environment where they can feel confident and enjoy the different lessons and subjects. From my point of view, there are several issues that we must take into account for achieving this. These are:

  • Know your group: there are some techniques such as the sociogram, which provides you with information about the social bonds and group relationships. This could be very useful to know how students could sit down with their mates (for example in cooperative groups) and to avoid social problems such as bullying. Besides, the sociogram allows teachers to know the degree of social skills of students and take advantage of it.

  • Set the class rules (code of behaviour) with them from the first day of the class and be clear and consistent: there is no point in constantly threatening them with punishment if you are not going to stick to it in the end, or in being too strict with them if they don`t understand why they should meet a standard. If you want them to respect you and each other they have to be aware of what they can do, what they can`t and why. Otherwise they would never know if they are acting properly or not.

  • Smile often and be kind with them: try to praise their achievements more and do not only focus on their mistakes (positive reinforcement). Make them know that making mistakes is positive for learning and solving their flaws by themselves. Don`t make them feel embarrased when they don`t know an answer, but ask them how they can find that information and what they should do to learn it.

  • Make the subject appealing to them: a good teacher should try to make his/her subject meaningful and interesting for students. Use games, songs, videos, group dynamics (such as role-playing, debates, drama, etc) or do projects, and do not only use the ordinary student’s and activity book. That way they would learn easily while they are having fun.

  • Make them feel important and useful for the rest of the class by assigning roles so that they feel responsible: a good example of this could be by using cooperative learning roles (supervisor, time keeper, leader, scribe, spokes person and making them help each other when they have doubts or don`t know something about a task. The group always knows more than the individual

  • Take the diversity of your students into account and make direct contact with their families: pay attention to every attitude or mood change of your pupils and find out about their family or personal situation. They could be going through a difficult moment in their lives or might need individual curricular adaptations.

To sum up, I would like to highlight that many factors lie behind a good teaching practice. It is not just being able to manage the learning of students, but also to manage the classroom environment in many different aspects in order to obtain the best possible setting.